Good Gardening with Mark Curtis: April 2019

01/04/19 News

Nothing evokes the arrival of spring for me more than the perfume of a collection of Primroses. 
They were the favourite flower of Prince Albert, so twenty years after he had died, Victoria sent a posie to cheer up the sick and ailing Benjamin Disraeli, mentioning in passing that they were Albert's favourite flower. Disraeli quipped faintly ‘I hope that her majesty does not mean me to deliver them in person!' The new swirled blooms of Primula Scirocco remind one of a pretty tutu. 
Paradise Park has just celebrated its 30th birthday, opened in 1989 by the late and great Geoff Hamilton. Looking back through his books, especially ‘Cottage Gardens' and his last, ‘Paradise Gardens', he shows his great gift of catching the essence of a garden, its privacy and individuality, in a practical and down to earth way. Climbers are a first call to give you that privacy, for dressing fences and arbours, and for scrambling through trees. 
This time of year, Clematis montana comes into its own. Introduced to English gardens in 1831, this rampant scrambler is good for cloaking walls, fences, arbours and through larger trees. Best in full sun, they take about three seasons to start to reach their full – and rather large – potential. My favourite is the vanilla-scented, pale pink of C. montana ‘Elizabeth’ (Award of Garden Merit). Elizabeth stands guard by my front door and also ornaments my back fence. If you prefer a darker pink with a brooding foliage, then Tetrarose is for you. 
For the white garden, use grandiflora with white flower and scent. Geoff was very fond of seats and arbours, so the white-flowered Lonicera halliana, a vigorous scented evergreen is ideal here. If you want a honeysuckle which is a little less vigorous (12ft), try Lonicera ‘Sweet Sue’ – originally named after plantsman Roy Lancaster's wife. Don't waste those vertical areas which catch your eye, without the enjoyment of a profusion of blooms.

Mark Curtis
Plant Manager, Tates of Sussex

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